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Bigness is at once a virtue and a curse for North Texas State. Gusset-busting linemen averaging 232 pounds can clear plenty of room for the runners, but the backs are big, too—and slow. Even so, the Eagles will be primarily a running team, for they haven't got much in the way of passing. Last season only 31 tosses were completed, and this year's quarterback, Merle Boyd, is a barely adequate passer. Slow Ends Mike Pirkle (224 pounds)and Win Freeman (234 pounds) won't help Boyd much, since they seldom reach the ball. The lack of speed hurts in another way, too. Halfback Bob Smith, the lone breakaway threat, most times is too fast for his ponderous interference. Quicker ends or another fast halfback would give Boyd an opportunity to improve his pass completions and Smith a chance to better his 4.5-yard rushing average. Coach Odus Mitchell's defensive line is fierce on ball-carriers, but he has no one to stop passes.
CONCLUSION: Opponents' passes and the lack of a passing game of its own doom State to at best a break-even season.
In 1961 Rice had a curious penchant for playing "big." The Owls either won by sizable scores, or lost the same way. Not that they did badly overall—a 7-4 season is handsome enough—but they had been co-favorites to win the SWC. Coach Jess Neely has lost the major part of last year's team—17 lettermen and six starters. Yet so abundant are the prize sophomores at hand that Rice should have better depth this year for the hard games ahead. Without a speed boy, Neely's T formation will be balanced between the long passing of Quarterback Bill Cox and the powerful rushing of sophomore Fullback Russ Wayt. The line has a nice solid look, too. End Gene Raesz, the team's most capable receiver, and 236-pound Guard Mike Fritsch are the best performers and seldom miss blocks or tackles. Only at tackle will Rice have trouble. John Mims, 246 pounds, is the lone returning letterman. The rest are red-shirts and sophomores.
CONCLUSION: Rice can shape up early against non-conference foes. If it shapes up well, Texas et al. may be in danger.
The Mustangs couldn't get Frank Broyles to coach them, so they did the next best thing: they took Broyles's assistant, Hayden Fry. Fry has the Arkansas touch. Since arriving on campus, he has imbued the school and the squad with a winning attitude and, more important, made sweeping changes in the players' physiques and positions. He melted an average seven pounds off of each man and shifted 17 of the first 33 players. Defense and running were given precedent over the other skills. For this reason Quarterback Jerry Rhome, after an impressive sophomore year, lost his position and left school. Don Campbell, a lightweight passer but a sound runner and defensive man, takes over. Max Derden, a red-shirted quarterback in 1961, becomes the regular fullback. Impressed by sophomore John Knee, Fry matched him at tackle with Ray Schoenke (whom he shifted from guard), and made the interior line the team's most promising area.
CONCLUSION: After an impressive start, Fry has a long way to go. One year is hardly enough time to make a winner.
" Texas," Southwesterners have been complaining the last few years, "gets all the players." They were right, too, in 1960 and 61, when Jimmy Saxton, Mike Cotten and Jack Collins were running wild. They will be no less correct this year, even though graduation has removed the three along with a few choice linemen. For Coach Darrell Royal has a new group ready. Jerry Cook (6 feet 3) who, as an alternate last season, tied as the team's high scorer (56 points), takes over at tailback for Saxton. John Genung moves in at quarterback. In 1961 he had better than a 5.0 rushing average to go along with two touchdown passes in limited play. At fullback there is 6-foot-4 Ray Poage, who, if he stays healthy, could easily be the best in the country. Wingback will be either 208-pound Ernie Koy or 194-pound Joe Dixon, sophomores and both elusive runners and fine receivers. Tackle Scott Appleton, a possible All-America, is the core of a strong defense.